'Refs have got to use common sense' - Beauden Barrett slams controversial Sunwolves red card as 'a joke'

All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett has added his voice to the growing caucus of concerned members of the rugby community who think referee blunders are hurting the game.

Barrett raised his issues today after referee Ben O'Keeffe handed out a controversial red card during last night's Super Rugby contest between the Reds and Sunwolves.

O'Keeffe sent Sunwolves flanker Ed Quirk off after he lightly brushed the face of Hamish Stewart with a fist while the duo were stuck at the bottom of a ruck late in the first half.

Barrett told Newstalk ZB he was speechless at the decision.

"It was a joke in my opinion," he said.

"They've (the referees) got to use common sense and there was certainly no force in that.

"Where's the game going when we award red cards for little things like that?"

O'Keeffe was forced into the decision due to the instructions handed down by World Rugby with law 10.4 stating players must not strike an opponent - there is no mention of how hard or soft it can be to force a red card.

Former All Black and current Reds coach Brad Thorn was just as dumbfounded.

"What's going on?" Thorn said.

"I suspect I sound like an old guy that's going, 'back in the day, blah blah blah', but seriously, that's not good for footy.

"I'm sitting there, I'm the opposite coach and straight away, I'm up there just going, that's no good. It just hurts the game.

"Far out, man. How hard did you have to work to find that?

"The five-eighth's at the bottom of the ruck, the forward gives him a little facial. Isn't that what you're supposed to do?

"Seriously. Come on, man. Come on. My sons do that in the backyard. It's beautiful. Good on them."

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